In The Sum of Us, author Heather McGee illustrates the pervasive damage wrought by racism on American society. She focuses on aspects of society that include public education, healthcare, home ownership, mortgage lending, and access to high-paying jobs. Her argument, in short, is that while "the ledger of racial harms" is far from equal, racism is not just harmful to African Americans. Rather, white supremacy costs "our entire society."
Drawing on a great deal of scholarship from economists, historians, and political scientists, McGee demonstrates that racism has had a profoundly destructive effect on what might be called the "social contract" in the United States. This is because many white Americans continue to oppose social programs and institutions that would have helped them as well as African Americans. Many Americans understand race within a "zero-sum paradigm" in which gains made by Black families and individuals come at the expense of whites.
The effects on various aspects of American society are profound. In the 2000s, white homeowners fell victims to the same kinds of predatory loans that initially targeted families of color. Public school funding has become a persistent problem as the schools themselves are increasingly segregated. White people disproportionately oppose universal healthcare and other programs that would benefit them on the grounds that they amount to "handouts" to poor Americans, who are consistently portrayed in racist terms in political discourse.
In short, McGee argues racism is pervasive in its effects on every aspect of American society, and it is nurtured by "divide and conquer" politics that have negative economic consequences for all.